Diamond Diaries

Cardinal baseball, from the girls

Finding the Spark

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Whether it’s the new batting order, playing the Seattle Mariners or enthusiasm over Jeff Suppan rejoining the team (ha), the Cardinals have definitely found a much needed spark during the last two games. And, after a 1-5 road trip where the offense mostly continued to struggle, some energy was welcome.

As we know, Tony La Russa changed the batting order a bit for Monday’s game by moving Matt Holliday to second, Ryan Ludwick to cleanup, the pitcher to eighth and Brendan Ryan ninth. The move paid off that night: Holliday had 2 hits and a walk, Albert was 3 for 3 with 2 walks, Ludwick was 2 for 4 with a homer and 4 RBI, and Brendan was 2 for 4 and the Cardinals won 9 to 3. Instant success!

But one game does not a resurgence make. Would that momentum continue on Tuesday? Especially since momentum, as Earl Weaver famously said, is the next day’s starting pitcher – who, of course, was Jeff Suppan. Would the sunshine and flowers remain?

Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

Well, sort of. Happily, the Cardinals won 4-2. Much to the chagrin of those predicting the apocalypse with his start, Suppan did a decent job. He pitched 4 innings and allowed 1 run on a homer by Milton Bradley, 3 other hits, struck out 4 (consecutively!) and walked 2. And he even hit a 2-out double and scored the Cardinals 3rd run in the 4th inning. As for the new look lineup, both Holliday and Ludwick were hitless while Brendan went 2 for 3.

Although not in a new lineup spot, Colby Rasmus has homered both nights. In fact, he’s having a terrific month offensively: hitting .410/.465/.923 in June with 6 homers and 13 RBI thus far while seeming to receive far less attention than new lineups and team additions.

Winning would make it seem the new lineup will stick around a bit, but it will be interesting to see how much longer it remains. This is the second time that Tony La Russa has moved Holliday ahead of Albert in the lineup, although that previous move only lasted a handful of games. And reading this quote from La Russa today really makes you wonder about the current lineup: “This one (with the pitcher hitting eighth) has more potential value. But there are some ‘ifs’ to this one too. The team was made up with Holliday hitting fourth, not third, not second.”

But, for now, we can enjoy the spark and energy that are back as well as a return to a first-place tie in the NL Central thanks to the Dodgers beating the Reds 12-0. And momentum is now Jaime Garcia, so a sweep of the Mariners looks promising. A win tonight would even the Cards June record at 7-7. The rollercoaster ride continues …

3 responses to “Finding the Spark

  1. Michael June 16, 2010 at 5:56 PM

    >The Razzer is tied for 8th in the National League homers with 13. But that's not the surprising number.Colby Rasmus is fifth in on-base percentage and second in the NL in slugging percentage. He's not having a terrific month — he's having a terrific year.Folks, if he continues this, he's an All-Star. No debate.From Hardball Times: "Not many 23-year-olds have qualified for the batting title and finished the season with a higher OPS+ than Rasmus since 1990." Those would be Albert Pujols, Frank Thomas, Ken Griffey Jr., Gary Sheffield, Juan Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder.There were people in 2008 who clamored to trade Rasmus for stretch drive help. Think they'd admit they were wrong?

  2. Angela W June 16, 2010 at 5:59 PM

    >The general pimping of Holliday over Ludwick and Rasmus lately has been nauseating, and the numbers you show there definitely make Rasmus' case!

  3. Chris June 16, 2010 at 9:16 PM

    >No debate on whether Colby *should* be an All-Star, but whether he *will* or not … It's highly doubtful he will win the fan vote. Thankfully, it's also highly doubtful that Holliday will too. I guess the Cardinals feel some obligation to pimp him for the All-Star vote because of his "status"? Just seems weird, given that he's the third-best outfielder on his own team.I'm sure the people who wanted Colby traded in 2008 have long forgotten about that, so they will not be able to admit they were wrong.

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